Plato - of matter What Plato is doing in this passage is...

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Plato, Aristotle, al-Farabi Plato The earliest version of the cosmological argument occurs in Book X of Plato's The Laws. It is noteworthy how well Plato's argument fits the general pattern: 1. Everything of type X has a cause. 2. There is something of type X. 3. For some reason (namely, Y), the series of causes of an X must terminate in a first cause. 4. This first cause can be identified with God. In the last lecture, I identified four dimensions of variation: focus, rationale, temporality, and modality. At this point I'd like to add a fifth: closure. Closure concerns the argument for point 4 of the general schema: what are the divine characteristics of the first cause that can be supported by the argument, and how are the inferences to these divine attributes supported? Let's go through each of the five dimensions of variation, and see what we can find in the text that is relevant to each. FOCUS Plato starts with the existence of motion, more specifically, the locomotion (change of position)
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Unformatted text preview: of matter. What Plato is doing in this passage is called reduction ad absurdum -- reducing his opponents' position to absurdity. In this case, the opponents are the materialists of his day, both atomists (like Democritus) and non-atomists (like Empocles, who believed that matter consisted of continuous fluids). The materialists espoused a principle of evolution that is very similar to that of Darwinism or neo-Darwinism: random movements of matter over time give rise to stable and sometimes very complex structures, including those of living organisms and human society. The materialists denied the need to postulate any sort of principle or power outside those inherent in matter. Since the materialists depend on the existence of motion, Plato can legitimately take that as one of his starting-points or premises. Moreover, the materialists also agree that all motion is caused: they accept that the search for causes is the business of science....
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course PHI PHI2010 taught by Professor Jorgerigol during the Fall '09 term at Broward College.

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